There might not be a more fitting visual representation than the one you see above of where Oklahoma stands right now recruiting wise in this 2013 class. In the last two days, the Sooners have missed on two of their highest priorities in this entire class.
Wednesday, news came that the No. 1 JUCO tight end in the 2013 class, Beau Sandland had decided on a top three and Oklahoma was not in it. If you assume Sandland was smart enough to have watched any game film from Oklahoma's offense this year, his decision should not surprise you in the slightest. At one point the Sooners were believed to be his favorite and Sandland would routinely mention how OU used Jermaine Gresham. Well for those of us familiar with the Josh Heupel offense, we know those days are long gone. Apparently, Sandland realized this as well.
Thursday afternoon however was the 'Mike Tyson in his prime' esque uppercut knockout blow when Sooner legacy and longtime supposed OU lean, Justin Manningcommitted to Texas A&M. There had been talk over the last week or so that the Aggies had come on incredibly strong and might even be the favorite to land Manning. At one point that would have been unimaginable given Manning's ties to the Oklahoma program (his older brother is Demarcus Granger) and incredibly close relationship with OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp.
Unfortunately, whatever Texas A&M did somehow managed to erase the considerable history Manning and this Oklahoma program share.
And with that, one has to wonder how Shipp and Bob Stoops could have allowed this to happen. A popular theory is that Oklahoma waited too long (or at least too long according to Manning) to officially extend a scholarship offer to Manning. Which, in my opinion, is ridiculous. Manning had an offer to Oklahoma whenever he wanted it. It was never a matter of if, but rather when.
So what happened then? Honestly, I wish I could tell you. I'd love to know as much as you. How could a kid choose to be the fifth defensive tackle in A&M's 2013 class when Oklahoma doesn't have a single one AND is losing three seniors at the position? How could he seemingly ignore his almost father-like relationship with Jackie Shipp? These are things we may never have the answer to.
Answers or no, the fact remains Oklahoma has less than zero momentum in recruiting right now and nothing in the foreseeable future potentially changing that. Missing out on Sandland was one thing, but losing Manning is a colossally epic failure on the part of this Oklahoma coaching staff. Some (or many) may call for Shipp to be fired which is an expected reaction to something like this. You would have thought Manning was gift wrapped to eventually wind up in the crimson and cream and yet somehow Shipp let him get away.
Whether or not Shipp deserves to be fired is obviously for others to decide. That said, losing Manning is inexcusable. With two months to go until Signing Day, Shipp and Oklahoma have a considerable amount of work to do at a position of dire need.
There are still two months before National Signing Day, but as of the time this will post Oklahoma's current 2013 class is ranked as low as any in recent memory at this same point in the recruiting cycle. Barring some significant changes, it could shake out as one of the worst classes, with respect to recruiting service rankings, Bob Stoops has ever signed.
If you can find a positive in all of this, it's that things can change very quickly in the world of recruiting. On the slip side, this is an Oklahoma coaching staff that is clearly searching for answers right now on the recruiting trail. The jury is out on whether or not they can recapture anything close to momentum and close out this class in a strong manner.